Elderberry – Sambucus canadensis

Elder berries
Elder berries

“Elder be ye lady’s tree.

Burn it not, or cursed ye’ll be.”


This common form of Elder is found only east of the Rockies, and south through eastern Mexico all the way to Panama. Here is the east of North America It can be found as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Florida. It tends to be found most frequently in moist areas along riverbanks, along roadways and in woods and thickets where it tends to stay moist.


All parts of Elder are Toxic except for the berries, but there is a bonus to the calcium oxalate crystals found in the leaves. If the leaves are dried and crumbled and scattered in the garden, they will act as an insecticide. In humans the leaves, twigs, and roots can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even coma if they are consumed. So used care when using them!


The berries and flowers have been used in both medicine and as food. It is recommended that the berries be cooked before consumption as some folks tend to get nauseous from them also! The elder berries are diuretic (removing excess fluid) and also detoxifying, and people consume them to lose weight. The berries can be used in infusion or tincture internally to treat colds, flu and asthma. Externally to treat swellings, rashes, and frostbite like trauma to skin (called chilblains).

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